If this weekend's final box office results are any indication, Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX) The LEGO Movie might be almost as timeless as the toys used to create it.
After grossing an impressive $31.3 million in its third weekend, The LEGO Movie once again proved the number one film in the U.S. That brings The LEGO Movie's worldwide total to $275.5 million -- or nearly quintuple Time Warner's $60 million production budget -- including $183 million from domestic audiences alone.
These newcomers haven't lost
But while most headlines rightly focus their attention on the dominant toy-centric film, don't let that fool you into thinking The LEGO Movie is the only winner at the box office right now.
For example, directed by Joseph McGinty "McG" Nichol, Relativity Media's 3 Days to Kill ended a distant second place in its debut this weekend, totaling just $12.2 million. However, keep in mind that's right in the middle of the studio's expected $11 million to $13 million opening range, and should be considered a great start given the action thriller's modest $28 million budget.
By comparison, consider McG's $65 million action flick This Means War, which opened in February 2012 at fifth place with a modest $17.4 million. Over the next 17 weekends, This Means War went on to gross nearly $156.5 million at the global box office, more than proving its worth. When 3 Days to Kill exits theaters a few months from now, I suspect its end result -- at least relative to its budget -- will be even better.
Next, it's a little harder to justify the seemingly dismal U.S. performance of Constantin Films' fellow newbie Pompeii, which cost $100 million to produce and grossed just $10.3 million this weekend. To Constantin's credit, it is leaving domestic distribution up to Sony's (NYSE:SNE) TriStar subsidiary, and sold international rights to independent distributors.
This in mind, Pompeii is also enjoying a fairly solid reception overseas, where it already grossed $22.8 million after launching in more than two dozen countries this weekend. But that's not entirely surprising when we note several of director Paul W.S. Anderson's three most recent films -- including the last two Resident Evil movies and The Three Musketeers -- collectively gathered more than 80% of their total sales overseas.
If Pompeii can manage to maintain its international momentum in the same way, it still has a great chance at achieving profitability by the end of its theatrical run.
Don't forget the other holdovers
Speaking of big budget quasi-bombs, Sony Pictures' RoboCop arrived in fourth place during its own second weekend, picking up another $9 million to bring its domestic total to $44 million.
Taken alone, that's a far cry from recouping Sony's massive $100 million budget -- but like Pompeii, RoboCop has already gathered another $100 million from international moviegoers. For some perspective, when I singled out RoboCop's potential a little over a week ago, its overseas sales stood at just $29 million.
Finally, Sony's The Monuments Men and Screen Gems' About Last Night came in fifth and sixth place this weekend, respectively, grossing $7.9 million and $7.5 million.
Unfortunately, that's slightly below what I had expected for both movies going into this weekend, likely because I underestimated the Valentine's Day effect on About Last Night, which plunged a whopping 70.6% from last week. But that still doesn't mean About Last Night is a loser; after only two weekends, Screen Gems' … uh … gem … has grossed $38.3 million, or more than triple its tiny $12.5 million budget.
The Monuments Men, on the other hand, has totaled $84.3 million worldwide after three weeks, just barely exceeding its $70 million budget. Once again, however, keep in mind The Monuments Men also only began its wide international expansion last week, so the historical film's seemingly low total should look much better a few weeks from now.